With the accelerating production and upgrading of heavy and stealth fighters such as the J-16 and J-20 in the PLA; So the future of the J-10 light fighter in the Chinese Airforce is in question?
China started developing a new modern multi-role fighter J-10 in the late 1980s, as the successor to its J-8 and J-9 aircraft. The Chinese J-10 is supposed to be an answer to the Russian MiG-29 and the American F-16.
The J-10 fighter is manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC), and made its first flight in 1998; was announced to be put into operation in the Chinese Army in 2003, after nearly 18 years of development.
According to the original strategy, the J-10 will be the mainstay of the PLA Air Force; There are currently more than 300 J-10s in service with the Air Force, while nearly 25 naval variants of the J-10 fighter , are in service with the PLA Navy aviation force.
China’s J-10s have attracted attention recently, when the J-10 along with China’s Su-30MKK participated in “air combat” in the context of heavy rain and poor visibility, to test the readiness of the aircraft. PLA’s all-weather combat readiness.
But with the advent of more advanced jet fighters such as the J-16 and the fifth-generation J-20, experts continue to question the J-10’s viability in the air force.
The J-10 (NATO reporting name Firebird) is a light, single-engine, multirole fighter aircraft capable of operating in all weather. Designed for China Air Force (PLAAF) air-to-air and strike missions.
Similar to the French Rafale fighters, the J-10 uses a large triangular wing design and two canards to increase manoeuvrability. The armament payload is similar to MiG-29 and F-16 with three weapon pylons on each wing and three belly pylons.
The J-10 has many variants including the first improved version J-10A, naval variant J-10AH, two-seat training variant Tandem J-10S and upgraded version J-10B, equipped with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and an optical sensor.
The latest and most advanced variant of the J-10 is the J-10C, which was recently fitted with a locally produced WS-10 Taihang engine and made its first public appearance during a firing training session. actually, after joining the PLA Air Force.
The J-10C is powered by the Taihang engine, first revealed in a video released by Chengdu Aviation Industry Corporation in March 2020, following the J-10C’s first public appearance, with Original Russian jet engine AL-31 in 2017.
Highlighting the importance of domestic engines, military experts analyze, the nozzle blades on the WS-10 engine are significantly wider than on the AL-31 and WS-10 engines. ring structure surrounding the inside of the nozzle, which the AL -31 does not have. As can be seen, the WS-10 nozzle is somewhat lighter than the Russian engine.
In addition to improved avionics such as the AESA fire control radar and the visual infrared seeker (IIR), the J-10C can use many new Chinese avionics, including some advanced long-range missiles such as the PL-15.
According to Wang Ya’nan, editor-in-chief of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times: The next step, China is expected to develop more advanced engines with power ratio. push on larger weights; longer service life, more efficient maintenance standards and intelligent control technology to match the needs of next-generation aircraft.
Despite having served the PLA Air Force for more than two decades, the future of the J-10 remains uncertain, as China focuses on advanced fighters such as the J-16 or J-20. Meanwhile, regional rivals such as India and Japan are using Rafale, Su-30MKI, F-15 and even F-35 aircraft.
China is continuing to research and develop a J-16 fighter based on the Soviet-designed Sukhoi Su-27 fighter. The J-16 is a twin-engine jet aircraft that also made its maiden flight in 2012, known as China’s Su-35.
In addition, the Chinese Air Force also owns many J-11s, with many variants and upgrades such as the missile approach warning system (MAWS), improved cockpit display and fire control system for the missile. R-77 or PL-10.
The J-11 has also become an important part of the Chinese Air Force with more than 400 in service; while the Navy Air Force operated about 70 J-11s; and only these heavy aircraft can cope in a future war.
Moreover, with the focus on stealth technology, China is producing two types of stealth fighter J-20 entering service in 2019 and FC-31 in the development stage. Similar to how the US F-35A will replace the F-16, the FC-31 will likely replace the J-10 in the PLA Air Force.